I am a Florida resident. There has recently been a successful effort to get a proposed state constitutional amendment, amendment 2 legalizing medical marijuana, on the ballot which will be voted on during the 2014 general election. This has sparked significant controversy in the state as to what the precise results of this initiative will be and speculation as to what the ultimate intent of gaining passage of medical marijuana is. I will make the effort to confront popular opposition and hyperbole in reference to this topic which I find to be largely scare tactics.
Jeb Bush, former Florida governor and potential 2014 presidential candidate, stated earlier in the year that legalization of medical marijuana will hurt the state’s “family friendly” reputation. This is an interesting observation that smacks of both ignorance of prescription drugs and detachment from medical conditions that can be helped with the use of this treatment. First, perhaps Bush and others are unclear as to the wide array of opioids and other controlled substances which are readily available for medicinal use? Maybe Mr. Bush and his contemporaries--which share his trepidation of medical use of a drug like marijuana--has not heard of morphine, oxycodone, methadone, codeine, hydromorphone, fentanyl, and Xanax; all drugs which can be safely stated as being much strong than marijuana. I guess I have not heard of all the families boycotting Disney and Universal Studios when Orlando has a burgeoning drug problem with hydrocodone (a prescription drug) being one of the most popular illegal recreational choices.
Speaking further on the attempt in Florida to “create a family-friendly destination for tourism and a desirable place to raise a family or retire” Bush continued by stating that “allowing large-scale, marijuana operations to take root across Florida, under the guise of using it for medicinal purposes, runs counter to all these efforts (Adams, Reuters, 2014).” I suppose Jeb Bush has also not heard that there is no such thing as a marijuana shortage in the state. In fact, our government, in all its wonderful glory cannot even keep drugs out of prisons; but, let us make certain that a cancer or epilepsy patient doesn’t get their hands on it…it will be the end for sure!!!
A local state representative, Rep. Broxson, stated recently that legalization of medical marijuana is just the first step towards legalizing it recreationally; an assertion I have heard several times from state legislators. Let us re-examine the list of controlled substances already listed above, which have all been legal (medicinally) for several years. Then I would like someone to tell me which of those drugs (or their street alternatives, i.e. heroin) have been legalized because sick people are allowed to use them for medical reasons? Hold on…you mean the answer is zero? How can that be? Medical use is clearly the gateway towards legalization…right?? Hmmm, perhaps not.
Finally, Mr. Broxson thought it necessary to mention that we should not legalize such an option because it is against federal law. We must keep in mind that Mr. Broxson fancies himself a constitutionalist, so my question is where in the US Constitution do the States give the federal government the power to regulate such things? (Hint: it doesn’t). The states created the federal government with a certain amount of power that was limited, not the other way around. I think it would be refreshing to hear people that claim to be students of the Constitution and champions of State’s rights not cowering to the claims to power lawlessly made by the federal government. It is possible that if true defenders of the Constitution had been around 80 years ago, our political climate may be much more inclined towards actual justice and a moral (not to be confused with use of the law for legislating morality) use of the law than it is today.
To deny people the use of a drug that can make a difference in a significant chronic or critical condition is unambiguously immoral; and borders on cruelty. Those of us who claim to champion liberty and the American ideal should exercise caution in using the government as an implement of force for controlling behavior that might be contrary to our own beliefs and mores; particularly when that use of force can result in unnecessary harm to another individual. Keep in mind that if we buy into the (anti)logic that keeping marijuana illegal for medical use because of the risk of people using it illegally for recreation is not appreciably different than the argument that guns should be illegal so criminals don’t hurt others.